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Australian teen solo sailor marks 70 days at sea

SYDNEY — Australian schoolgirl Jessica Watson on Sunday marked 70 days at sea in her solo round-the-world sail, after a foggy Christmas on one of the most isolated points on the planet.

Watson, 16, has travelled 8,000 nautical miles since leaving Sydney in her pink yacht on October 18 in her bid to become the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world, her spokesman Andrew Fraser said.

"It's all going really well," Fraser told AFP. "She is ahead of the proposed schedule at the moment. She just passed 8,000 miles this morning. So far, we are just delighted with her progress."

Watson had not yet faced a monster storm but was enduring constant three to four metre (10 to 13 foot) swells and 25 knot winds in the cool Southern Ocean, he said.

"It's rough most of the time out there," he said. "It's never easy or comfortable."

In her blog, Watson wrote that Christmas was her "foggiest day yet" and that she had spent the day speaking to family on the phone, eating her favourite foods and opening the presents which had been stored on her 10-metre boat.

"I have to admit I spent the day being pretty lazy, just doing the bare minimum to keep us moving vaguely in the right direction and staying out of the cold," she wrote on Saturday.

On December 24, Watson said she had passed an area known as Point Nemo -- the point in the ocean farthest from land -- and that the closest land was 1,450 nautical miles away on either Pitcairn or Easter island or Antarctica.

In her postings, the teenage adventurer has written of her isolation but said she is not lonely despite seeing nothing but ocean for months.

"It's still strange to think that I'm probably hundreds of miles from the nearest person, in fact it's now almost two months since I've seen anyone," she wrote in early December.

"Sure I've seen other boats but none of them have come close enough to actually make out the crew.
"Maybe stranger still, I can honestly say that I've not once felt lonely out here. Homesick sure and I've missed everyone since the moment I sailed out of Sydney, but not lonely."

Watson, whose record attempt was criticised by some officials after she crashed into a massive coal freighter in a test run, said she felt like the "luckiest girl in the world" to be on a little boat in the middle of the ocean.
The Queensland teenager, who jokes that her stuffed toys make up her "crew", plans to end her 23,000 nautical mile journey in May after passing the treacherous Cape Horn, the Southern Atlantic and the Cape of Good Hope.

In August, Britain's Mike Perham, 17, became the youngest person to sail round the world but rudder problems and other hitches forced him to pull into port three times.


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Posted in: News by SoulRiser on December 28, 2009 @ 7:36 PM

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